The Grammarphobia Blog

Excuse me, Mr. Trump!

Q: On “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump says things like “You will be joining so-and-so and I in the boardroom” or “You will be joining so-and-so and myself in the boardroom.” Do you think “I” or “myself” will become accepted in sentences like those? (I don’t think so!) If not, do you think someone should tell Mr. Trump?

A: No, I don’t think “I” or “myself” will ever be acceptable in place of “me” in the examples you gave. And I think someone should tell Mr. Trump. (Someone who DOESN’T work for him!)

Mixing up “I” and “me,” I think, is the single most common mistake in American English. I’m sure you’re aware that Donald Trump has a lot of company. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are serial offenders (“with Hillary and I” … “from Laura and I”).

Luckily, there’s an easy way to help decide whether to use “I” or “me.” Just mentally eliminate the other guy and the correct word becomes obvious : “You will be joining … me in the boardroom.”

And using “myself” when you can’t decide between “I” and “me” is not only a cop-out but also wrong. The word “myself” is used for only two things: 1) To emphasize something (Let me do it myself). 2) To refer to oneself (I can see myself in the mirror).

In the contest between “I” and “me,” the booby prize goes to “myself.”

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